I am an executive coach. I do what I do with executives and business people as an external service provider coming in to help them improve their game in all sorts of ways. But coaching is not something that is strictly for a professional coach to do with an executive or a client. Coaching is a tool of leadership – a sorely underutilized tool.
One of the competencies consistently scored the lowest on 360° leadership assessments across the board for managers and executives in the U.S. is “Developing Direct Reports”. Everyone is always talking about developing your people. It sounds so good; and indeed, it is a critical skill. But who ever talks about how you do that? What are the tools? What are the techniques? What does it look like?
It looks like coaching. It is about building and integrating a formal coaching relationship into how you manage your people. So let’s talk about coaching as a leadership competency. That is because coaching is a key component of true leadership.
We’ll start by discussing Leadership. What is it? The conversation about leaders has been going on for a very long time. Countless books have been written about it. Similarly endless are the various and usually complex definitions of a leader. But in fact, it’s a simple answer:
A leader is someone who has followers.
That may seem ridiculously obvious you at first glance, but it implies an entire framework of thinking and activities – a paradigm. There are volumes of information conveyed in that statement. If I don’t have people voluntarily, choosing of their own accord to follow me, I am not a leader. Period.